October 13, 2020
Take Away This Ball and Chain: Untethering from the Computer
My family has enjoyed watching Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s The Titan Games this summer. A 21st century reimagining of an American Gladiator-style competition show, Titans compete against each other, with an ultimate showdown on Mount Olympus. One of the final tasks of the grueling obstacle course is to drag a…

My family has enjoyed watching Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson’s The Titan Games this summer. A 21st century reimagining of an American Gladiator-style competition show, Titans compete against each other, with an ultimate showdown on Mount Olympus. One of the final tasks of the grueling obstacle course is to drag a 300 lb. ball and chain from one side of the course to the other. While some with superhuman strength manage to get that ball across with ease, many others are far too exhausted at this point in the challenge.

There are probably times where today’s healthcare providers feel like they’ve been thrown on that Titans course. Instead of completing the Herculean Pull and Atlas Smash, they’re pulled into several different directions and under the pressure of mounting administrative work. And then there’s that heavy ball and chain that follows them around, often all the way home at the end of the day: EHR documentation.

We enjoy a little background music, so as we dig into this topic a little further, we have put together a themed playlist to help guide the conversation. So hit play on that Spotify list (or fire up the ol’ 6-disc changer if you prefer the retro option) – we have a three track mixtape ready to help you get untethered from the computer.

Mixtape Track #1: “Take Away this Ball and Chain,” Social Distortion

In 2017, the Annals of Family Medicine published an aptly named article that examined the effects of providers being “Tethered to the EHR.” The results of the time-motion study found that primary care physicians spend over half of their day – an average of 5.9 hours of an 11.4 hour workday – interacting with the EHR. Of that time, 1.4 hours is spent after clinic hours. The study noted that EHR event logs could identify work that could be delegated, thus reducing the load on providers to curb burnout and improve satisfaction.

This study is nothing new, and comes as no surprise to anyone. It’s not just PCPs who have a good portion of their day consumed by EHR tasks – providers across all care settings are tethered to the EHR.

Recently Becker’s published an article that featured quotes from 25 providers who expressed their frustration with EHRs. Dr. Jerome Seid of St. John Providence noted, providers are trying to pack patient discussion, analysis, documentation and other EHR tasks in less time than was allotted for each patient visit in the past. He goes on to say, “the end result is either a rushed visit, with attendant patient and doctor dissatisfaction, risk for errors, omissions and/or inevitable delays in the office patient flow as I try to catch up. I often take the patient care path and leave dictation and charting for home in the evenings.”

In recent years, technology tools have been introduced to try to assist providers with a large chunk of that 5.9 hours spent on documentation. One of those tools is dictation software. Unfortunately, dictation tools just trade the tether of a mouse and keyboard for the tether of a microphone cord. (Yes, we admit, some microphones are connected by Bluetooth…but the point is still the same.)

Mixtape Track #2: “You Talk Too Much,” Joe Jones

In a 2018 JAMA study, a joint research group analyzed data from 217 clinical documentation notes by physicians who used voice recognition software from three leading vendors. The study found a 7.4% error rate across all of the notes. Specifically, seven in 100 words in unedited clinical documents created by the software had errors, and one in 250 were deemed clinically significant errors.

The study noted that the errors were mitigated with the help of a transcriptionist, with a 0.3% error rate in the final version signed by the physician.

The study notes, “many hospitals are adopting front-end dictation systems, where clinicians must review and edit their notes themselves, either as they dictate or at a later time.” But considering they’re under pressure to reduce documentation time, they typically only superficially review their notes before signing.

And there’s the rub. When providers are forced to juggle patient care with an equal amount of documentation, it’s likely to lead to “increased documentation errors if clinicians are unable to adequately review their notes.”

Dictation tools suggest that they reduce the time to complete clinical documentation. And sure, dictating is faster than typing. But these tools still require a sequential process where – either during or after the encounter – the provider must dictate the encounter, and then thoroughly review the note and correct errors.

Mixtape Track #3: “The Chain,” Fleetwood Mac

We’re in an advanced technological age. You wouldn’t install an 8-track player in a Tesla, right? It’s time to toss that old Fleetwood Mac tape in the garage sale box and stream it on Spotify. The same goes for your dictation – it’s time to “break the chain” and use a tool that untethers you from the computer.

With Speke, state-of-the-art machine learning technology is seamlessly available on a device that is already in your pocket – your mobile phone. Rather than carving out time after each patient encounter, you simply log into the Speke app, touch a button and let Speke do the work while you enjoy a normal conversation with your patients. A scribe works on the backend to review and complete the documentation. You simply sign off on the note.

Since it’s on a phone, Speke is as portable as you are. Whether you’re hopping from exam room to exam room, or site to site, Speke easily goes where you go.

With dictation tools, you’re still left alone to dictate and review after an encounter. That’s costly time that can be spent with more patients or at home with family, on top of the cost of the software. Speke integrates with your workflow, capturing the encounter and documented in the background by a scribe so you can recapture your valuable time.

Want to learn how you can “break the chain” and shift away from the computer? You can schedule a live demo with our team at info@scribeamerica.com.